The Oscar ceremony and the Chinese New Year both love the color red. As these 2 events collided this year, they inspired this Chaxi. While the taste of tea can often be well explained with analogies to music, the brewing is a performance, an act. The tea is the lead actor and the brewer is the director (he also becomes an actor if guests are watching).
Today, my main actor is a High Mountain Oolong from the CingJing area, harvested in spring 1990. It's one of the very first batch of high mountain Oolong! If you want great performance, select a great performer! It's true for movies and for tea.
But even the best actor would be limited if he had to do all his acting on an empty stage. Here, a silky, red Japanese Obi (kimono belt) serves as background to my tea ceremony. Its shine and glitter feels elegant and beautiful like the red carpet or even fashion dresses worn by the stars.
Clothes don't make the man, but they help the actor play his part. They transform his appearance to make the story feel real. What is the tea's character will determine what teapot we choose to express accurately its original taste.
Tea is a story in several acts/brews. It would be boring if each brew would be a repetition of the last. Unless you use many leaves, it's unlikely that you get twice the same result anyway! What distinguishes the film director from the home movie maker is the ability to direct rather than just record. A beginner pours hot water and records what's happening to the tea. Whaoo! Each time is different!
The director type brewer is not just recording, but he's brewing to make the best of his leaves at each stage of the brewing. He adapts the way he pours the hot water to the state of the leaves. He knows what taste he should achieve now with these leaves and tries his best to get it.
The cup is like the screen on which you watch your movie. Is it Full HD or even already Ultra High definition? Are all the flavors well balanced and expressed? Or does it feel artificial and unnatural? Each cup alters the perception of the tea and it's always fun to play around with different cups. Here, I used very similar ivory-hued Dehua cups (and my flower cups).
Unfold the red carpet for your best teas. Action!
Young beauties and flowers will fade away, but there will always be great teas and stories to tell.
My name is Stéphane Erler. I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.